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Commentary On Psalms Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 110:1-3

1. Jehovah said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.2. Jehovah shall send out of Zion the scepter of thy power: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.3. Thy people shall come with voluntary offerings, at the time of the assembling of thine army, in beauty of holiness: from the womb as from the morning dawn to thee has been the dew of thy youth.

1 Jehovah said to my Lord What is here stated might to some extent be applied to the person of David, inasmuch as he neither ascended the royal throne illegally, nor did he find his way to it by nefarious artifices, nor was he raised to it by the fickle suffrages of the people, but it was by the direct authority of God that he reigned over Israel. It may be justly affirmed of all the kings of the earth, that they have been placed upon their thrones by the hand of God, for the kingdoms of this world are appointed by the decree of heaven, and |there is no power but of God,| (Romans 13:1) Besides, as this kingdom was altogether peculiar, it was the design of David to make a distinction between it and all other kingdoms. God indeed invests kings with authority, but they are not consecrated as David was, that like him, in consequence of the holy anointing oil, they might be elevated to the rank of Christ's vicegerents. In the eighty-second psalm they are called gods, because by the will of God they hold their position, and in some respects are his representatives, (all power being lodged in him;) but they are not clothed with that sacred majesty by which David was honored to be a type of God's only begotten Son. Moreover, he justly observes that the kingdom was conferred upon him in a totally different manner from other earthly kings, who, while they acknowledge that it is by the grace of God they reign, yet, at the same time, do not consider that they are sustained by his power, but, on the contrary, imagine that they reign either by their own policy, by hereditary right, or by the kindness of fortune; and, therefore, in so far as it respects themselves, it must be affirmed, that they have no legitimate title to reign. And since they do not recognize the hand of God in what they derive from him, his command cannot be properly addressed to them. David, who was well aware that he was anointed by God to be king over Israel, and who maintained an obscure and retired position until summoned to assume the reins of government, shows good cause why he is not to be classed with the ordinary kings of the earth; meaning that he reigned by a Divine right. That the whole of what is stated in this verse cannot be entirely and exclusively applied to David, is very obvious from Christ's reply to the Pharisees, (Matthew 22:44) They having said that Christ was to be the son of David, he saith unto them, |How then doth David himself call him Lord?|

The objection started by the Jews, that Christ's reply was captious, is entirely frivolous, because David does not speak in his own name, but in that of the people. This objection is easily repelled. For even granting that this psalm was penned in name of the whole Church, yet as David himself constituted one of the number of the godly, and was a member of the body under the same head, he could not separate himself from that class, or be dissevered from this head; what is more, he could not compose this psalm for others without, at the same time, taking part with them in it. There is besides another thing deserving of notice, the assumption of the principle or maxim then generally admitted, that David spake by the spirit of prophecy, and consequently prophesied of the future reign of Christ. This principle of interpretation being admitted, it is plainly to be inferred that he had a reference to Christ's future manifestation in the flesh, because he is the sole and supreme Head of the Church. From which it also follows, that there is something in Christ more excellent than his humanity, on account of which he is called the Lord of David his father. This view is strengthened by what is stated in the second clause of the verse. Earthly kings may indeed be said to sit at God's right hand, inasmuch as they reign by his authority; here, however, something more lofty is expressed, in that one king is chosen in a peculiar manner, and elevated to the rank of power and dignity next to God, of which dignity the twilight only appeared in David, while in Christ it shone forth in meridian splendor. And as God's right hand is elevated far above all angels, it follows that he who is seated there is exalted above all creatures. We will not maintain that angels were brought down from their high estate to be put in subjection to David. What, then, is the result, but that by the spirit of prophecy Christ's throne is exalted far above all principalities in heavenly places? The simile is borrowed from what is customary among earthly kings, that the person who is seated at his right hand is said to be next to him, and hence the Son, by whom the Father governs the world, is by this session represented as metaphorically invested with supreme dominion.

Until I make thine enemies thy footstool By these words the prophet affirms that Christ would subdue all the opposition which his enemies in their tumultuous rage might employ for the subversion of his kingdom. At the same time, he intimates that the kingdom of Christ would never enjoy tranquillity until he had conquered his numerous and formidable enemies. And even should the whole world direct their machinations to the overthrow of Christ's royal throne, David here declares that it would remain unmoved and unmoveable, while all they who rise up against it shall be ruined. From this let us learn that, however numerous those enemies may be who conspire against the Son of God, and attempt the subversion of his kingdom, all will be unavailing, for they shall never prevail against God's immutable purpose, but, on the contrary, they shall, by the greatness of his power, be laid prostrate at Christ's feet. And as this prediction will not be accomplished before the last day, it must be that the kingdom of Christ will be assailed by many enemies from time to time until the end of the world; and thus by-and-bye it is said, rule thou in the midst of thine enemies The particle until does not refer to that which may happen after the complete carnage of the enemies of Christ. Paul certainly declares that he will then deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, which he received from him, (1 Corinthians 15:24;) but we are not to take these words as denoting that he shall cease to reign, and become, as it were, a private individual; we are to regard them as describing the manner of his reign, that is, that his Divine majesty will be more conspicuous. Moreover, in this passage he is speaking solely of the reprobate who fall under Christ's feet to their own ruin and destruction. All mankind are naturally opposed to Christ, and hence it is, that ere they be brought to yield a willing obedience to him, they must be subdued and humbled. This he does with regard to some of them whom he afterwards makes partakers with him in his glory; while he casts off others, so that they may remain for ever in their lost state.

2 Jehovah shall send out of Zion the scepter of thy power. The Psalmist not only confirms, in different terms, what he stated above, but also adds, that Christ's kingdom shall be vastly extended, because God would make his scepter stretch far and wide. David did indeed render not a few of the surrounding nations tributaries to him, but still his kingdom, when contrasted with other monarchies, was always confined within narrow limits. There is in the words an implied contrast, as if he had said, that Christ should not reign as King upon mount Zion only, because God would cause his power to extend to the remotest regions of the earth. And for this reason it is denominated the scepter of his power, and how astonishing was it, that though the whole world was leagued in opposition to Christ's kingdom, it yet continued to spread and prosper. In a word, David here animates the hearts of the godly against being dispirited by the foolhardy attempts on the part of those who presume to introduce discord and disorder into the kingdom of Christ; for he shows them that God will put forth his invincible power for the maintaining of the glory of his sacred throne. What time, then, our minds are agitated by various commotions, let us learn confidently to repose on this support, that however much the world may rage against Christ, it will never be able to hurl him from the right hand of the Father. Moreover, as he does not reign on his own account, but for our salvation, we may rest assured that we will be protected and preserved from all ills under the guardianship of this invincible King. Doubtless our condition in this world is connected with many hardships; but as it is the will of God that Christ's kingdom should be encompassed with many enemies, and that too with the design of keeping us in a state of constant warfare, it becomes us to exercise patience and meekness; and assured of God's aid, boldly to set at nought the rage of the whole world. From this passage we are instructed as to the calling of the Gentiles. Because, if God had not told us in this place respecting the extension of Christ's kingdom, we would not this day have been classed among his people. But as the wall is broken down, (Ephesians 2:14) and the gospel promulgated, we have been gathered together into the body of the Church, and Christ's power is put forth to uphold and defend us.

3 Thy people shall come In this verse the Psalmist sets forth the honors of Christ's kingdom in relation to the number of his subjects, and their prompt and cheerful obedience to his commands. The Hebrew term, which he employs, frequently denotes voluntary oblations; but, in the present case, it refers to the chosen people, those who are truly Christ's flock; declaring that they shall be a willing people, spontaneously and cheerfully consecrating themselves to his service. At the time of the assembling of thine army, that is to say, as often as there shall be a convening of solemn and lawful assemblies, or the king shall desire an account of his people; which may be expressed in French, au jour des montres, -- in the day of the review. Others render it, in the day of thy power; but the former is preferable, for when Christ shall wish to assemble his people, immediately they will yield a prompt obedience, without being forcibly constrained to it. Moreover, for the purpose of assuring us that this, in preference to all other kingdoms, was set apart by God for his peculiar services, it is added, the beauties or honors of holiness, thereby intimating, that all who become Christ's subjects will not approach him as they would do an earthly king, but as they would come into the presence of God himself, their sole aim being to serve God.

Out of the womb of the morning, etc. It would not be for edification to recount all the interpretations which have been given of this clause, for when I have established its true and natural import, it would be quite superfluous to enter upon a refutation of others. There does not, indeed, appear to me any reason to doubt that, in this place, David extols the Divine favor displayed in increasing the number of Christ's people; and hence, in consequence of their extraordinary increase, he compares the youth or race which would be born to him to the dew. As men are struck with astonishment at seeing the earth moistened and refreshed with dew, though its descent be imperceptible, even so, David declares that an innumerable offspring shall be born to Christ, who shall be spread over the whole earth. The youth, therefore, which, like the dew-drops, are innumerable, are here designated the dew of childhood or of youth The Hebrew term, yldvt, yalduth, is used as a collective noun, that is, a noun which does not point out a single individual only, but a community or society. Should any wish to attach a more definite and distinct signification to the term, he may do so in the following manner: That an offspring, innumerable as the dew-drops of the morning, shall issue from his womb. The testimony of experience proves that there was good reason for uttering this prediction. The multitude who, in so short a time, have been gathered together and subjected to Christ's sway, is incredible; the more so, as this has been accomplished by the sound of the Gospel alone, and that, too, in spite of the formidable opposition of the whole world. Besides, it is not surprising that aged persons, who are recently converted to Christ, should be designated children newly born, because the spiritual birth, according to Peter, makes all the godly become as new-born babes, (1 Peter 2:2) To the same purpose are the words of Isaiah, (Isaiah 53:10,) that Christ |shall see a seed whose days shall be prolonged;| and under his reign the Church has the promise of enjoying a season of incalculable fertility. What has been said will serve to account for the appellation given to the Church or children of God. And, assuredly, it is matter of surprise that there should be any, though the number may be few, gathered out of a world lying in ruins, and inhabited by the children of wrath; and it is still more surprising, that such vast multitudes are regenerated by the Spirit of Christ and by the word. At the same time, we would do well to bear in mind, that to execute God's commands promptly and cheerfully, and to be guided solely by his will, is the peculiar honor and privilege of his chosen; for Christ will recognize none as his people, except those who willingly take his yoke upon them, and come into his presence at the voice of his word. And that no one may imagine that eye-service is a proper discharge of his duty, the Psalmist very properly adds, that Christ will not be satisfied with mere external ceremony, but that he must be worshipped with true reverence, such as he himself instructs us to bring into the presence of God.

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